MILWAUKEE -- Injured Milwaukee police officer Frank Vrtochnick's partner testified in court Wednesday during the preliminary hearing for Juan Alvarado, the man accused of hitting Vrtochnick with his car on Christmas night, and then fleeing the scene. Alvarado pleaded guilty in court Wednesday, and a judge raised his bail, and determined there is enough evidence for this case to go to trial.
Officer Dayon Ninkovic testified Wednesday against 19-year-old Alvarado, who needed an interpreter to understand what Ninkovic was saying. Ninkovic said he and Vrtochnick were at South 18th Street and Windlake on Christmas night when Vrtochnick told him a vehicle was coming toward them, so Ninkovic says he put the squad car in reverse and floored it. Unfortunately, Vrtochnick was out of the car, and through his rearview mirror, Ninkovic said he saw Vrtochnick fall to the ground after being tossed in the air by car.
"His leg was bent in a way it should not be bent, and there was an ungodly amount of blood, and it looked like one of the worst things I had ever seen. He starts telling me 'I'm choking on my own blood,' and he started pulling teeth out of his mouth," Ninkovic said.
FOX6 was with Milwaukee police on Christmas night as the ambulance carrying Vrtochnick raced to Froedtert Hospital. Ninkovic says once Vrtochnick arrived at Froedtert, he didn't look any better. "Horrible. Absolutely. In the bed, not able to move, jaw wired shut. I mean, more tubes in him than a science project," Ninkovic said.
Milwaukee Police Officer William Hanney with the crash reconstruction unit testified Wednesday that once they found the car registered to Alvarado in the garage near 15th Street and 15th Place, it had visible damage corresponding to the Christmas night hit and run. "At the top of the headliner, at the top of the windshield, mixed in that headliner area and in the windshield there was blood and hair and fleshy debris," Hanney said.
That fleshy debris matched Vrtochnick's DNA. Alvarado was picked up in Chicago. Detective Victor Centeno talked with Alvarado and testified Wednesday. "He was heading to Mexico because he didn't want to go to jail," Centeno said.
Based on Alvarado's plans to flee to Mexico, the court commissioner raised his cash bail Wednesday from $50,000 to $100,000, and ruled there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Alvarado is expected back in court in February.